Sometimes doing a decent job, even a good job, isn’t enough. You might get solid performance reviews and earn your annual raise, but your career progress may stagnate.
To fix that problem, you need to take matters into your own hands. You can’t simply assume that good work will be noticed or rewarded. Instead, you need to put yourself in a position to take whatever it is you want.
Whether it’s a promotion, a pat on the back, more money, or some combination of all of those things, you can kick your career into the next gear. There are lots of ways to do that, but the most important thing is being active rather than passive about what you want and where you’re going.
1. State your intentions
Sometimes bosses assume an employee who doesn’t ask for anything is happy with his or her lot in life. That can be a relief the person or people in charge — one less squeaky wheel to worry about.
To avoid being overlooked, you need to make it clear to your boss what you want out of your career. If you want to move into new areas or get promoted, be open about it.
Don’t belabor the point. State your desires, ask for input, and then check in as appropriate, maybe a few times a year. Find out if where you want to go is realistic or if you’ll need to leave to achieve your goals.
2. Learn a new skill
Your boss may see you in a certain way and put you in a box. Maybe you’re great at customer service but you want to move into sales. Ask for opportunities to learn new skills at the office, whether it be by formally cross-training or by just pitching in as needed.
It’s also a good idea to formally learn new skills. For example, being good at customer service may not be enough to land you that sales job, but adding the ability to speak a second language might kick open those doors.
3. Never say no
Opportunities tend to come to those who are open to them. If you’re asked to do something, say “yes” unless you’re truly incapable or unqualified.
Be being willing to help out wherever it’s needed, and you can change how people see you. You may also get to meet new people or get exposed to different parts of the business.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you’re willing but unsure of your ability, say that and do the best job you can.
Make your own world
By taking an active part in your own development, you can take charge of your career. Maybe being willing to travel more and learning a language will make you indispensable on certain trips. If you want a promotion, do everything you can to show you deserve one — and be willing to look outside your company.
Your career goals are unique to you. Don’t expect to get there all at once, but do what you can to put yourself in positions that create opportunity, and be ready to capitalize when it happens.
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